I am competitive.
I spent much of my life wishing I wasn’t this way. It led to a life of pride, of striving to achieve much so that my accomplishments could feed my ever-driving need to be worthy and worth it. It led to a life of perfectionism and a never-ending quest for satisfaction. As much as I tried to convince myself that what I did, I did for God’s glory, as long as I tried to use the world to fill my hole, this could never be true.
I actively fought against my competitive nature for many years and when I could not overcome it, I derided myself for having it. Why could I not escape it?
I’ll never forget the day my friend Michelle told me that God gave me my competitiveness. I was astounded. Why would He give me something that led to so much spiritual trouble and turmoil? Why would He give me something that led a daily battle against pride and an insatiable desire to pursue too much too fast?
And then she reframed it for me: What if God gave you your competitiveness to help your husband through his porn addiction? What if what you call competitive, God calls loyal, tenacious, passionate, and fierce?
God is loyal.
God is tenacious.
God is passionate.
God is fierce.
God is a jealous God. He is jealous for us.
Don’t we know that to be true? Jesus is jealous for His bride, the church. And as marriage is supposed to be a representation of Jesus’ undying love for His people, it makes sense that we would reflect that same tenacity for our spouses.
There are all kinds of ways that our competitive, jealous, passionate, tenacious, fierce spirits can go wrong. Perhaps the litmus test is whether or not these qualities bear good fruit.
Not surrendering to the powers of darkness that breed things like pornography and sex-trafficking that consumed my husband bore good fruit.
Working so much that I couldn’t attend to the emotional needs of my daughters to promote a book about the deliverance from aforementioned evil did not bear good fruit.
Not giving up on my friend who has spent many months in mental health institutions, loving her in her state of desperation and despair, helping to sustain her family in her absence has borne good fruit. She is beginning to learn that her life is not a series of abandonments and hopeless relationships.
Erasing any kind of boundary that God has drawn for me, and instead, helping in any way I can does not produce good fruit. I put myself in place of Jesus and drain myself. I become more loyal to her than I do to my own Savior.
Refining our Gifts
It takes time for God to refine our gifts so that they produce the type of fruit He desires for us and from us. And it’s not just us. In the gospel of John, we see Peter’s passion as he tries to defend Jesus from the soldiers sent to deliver him to Pilate, using his sword to slice the ear off of Malchus. Peter’s passion caused him to protect and fight for his friend. Though Jesus didn’t need Peter to fight for Him in that particular moment, God used Peter’s passion and drive to spread the Gospel far and wide after Jesus’ ascension.
In the gospel of Mark, we see the competitive nature of John and James as they asked to sit next to Jesus when He was on His throne. We also know that John described himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” But John needed drive. He needed the passion God put within him. He just also needed time to let God refine it so it came out in the right manner. This passion led him to do miracles in Jesus’ name, write 5 books in the Bible, one while he was banished to the island, Patmos, where he wrote Revelation.
What if Peter had stayed in a place where he lamented himself for being too much when he defended Jesus and then being too little when he denied being Jesus’ friend after the arrest? What if John hadn’t let God teach him how to use his passion for God’s glory instead of his own? We all have gifts and talents that God places in us so we might bear much fruit. But sometimes we have to go through the process of pruning, of surrender, of discipline so the gifts are used for God and not for our own self edification.
Satan doesn’t us using our gifts for God and he does what he can to thwart our efforts and our growth. He speaks lies like:
You’re too much.
You keep trying this, but you fail because you’re not really talented.
You say you have pure motivations, but everyone knows you’re just trying to get attention.
God doesn’t love you enough to give you THAT gift.
Oh, you don’t have the gifts you’re friends have? Guess you got skipped. Only THOSE gifts are worth anything.
It’s important to know the difference between Satan’s lies and God’s refining. The best way for me to judge is to know the truth of God’s Word and to remember these words from John:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15: 1-5
When I’m doing things with Him and in Him, when it is His power and giftings living themselves out in me, I know that I am mirroring my Father. My gift is a reflection of who He is and what He does.
Because He is passionate, so am I.
Is there a label you’ve given yourself that you need to examine? Could the root of that label really be something else? Did God plant something in you that you might struggle with, but really it’s there to enable you to do amazing things? What kind of lies keep you from embracing how God made you?
On Wednesday, Barb Camp shares her incredible story of how she chose life in the face of incredible pain.
On Friday, Laura Krokos shares with us the story behind her new ministry tool called Connect Cards. If you are longing for a community that can truly connect, find a place of authenticity, and share openly, please don’t miss this!
We are scheduling SDG Connections posts for February 2016! Please pray about and considering sharing your story with us! Click here for details.
2016 4th SDG Retreat
2016 SDG Retreat Information & Registration is LIVE! Click here for more details. ONLY 3 ROOMS LEFT!
Family Life Today Interview
Just FYI, if you or someone you know is struggling (or has struggled) with porn addiction, the interviews Jen and Craig did at Family Life with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine are playing live Monday thru Wednesday. Click here for the radio broadcast.